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susan 2
19-11-2005, 17:00 PM
As this is more of a research question I've put it here rather than the letting agents area.

For all of our letting life we have let our flats ourselves. However now we are thinking about handing over to someone else. So two questions.
1. As a tenant do you prefer to deal with an agent or directly with your landlord.
2. If you are a landlord using an agent what sort of occupancy rate do you get on average. Would you recommend using an agent? There have been many horror stories about agents on the forum. Any suggestions about choosing one gratefully received.

I realise these are very general questions but would be interested in forum members experiences. Many thanks Susan

MrWoof
19-11-2005, 19:34 PM
Interview agents as you would tenants. Make sure they are registered with a professional body such as ARLA. If they appear to be, check with the body concerned. Try to get or at least read a copy of their tenancy agreement to make sure it is in plain English and legal. Check how they handle repairs and whether they serve notice and follow it through with court action if necessary. Make sure they get gas safety certificates done and send you a copy, remember, even if the agent is lax, they are your agent and you are responsible for their actions. If they want you to sign an agreement, read it VERY carefully. One agent local to me (not registered with ARLA or similar) wants six months notice to terminate the contract and then charges one month's rent per property.

MrShed
19-11-2005, 22:49 PM
In my experience, the main difference is risk from a tenants point of view. Agents tend to provide a "middle of the road" option, where they tend to carry out their legal obligations, but don't really go "above and beyond". And you kind of accept that they will be generally fair with the deposit, but expect at least a small part to be taken regardless. With private landlords, there seems to be a far bigger range. You might get someone who does absolutely nothing, not even their legal requirements. Or you may get someone who is lovely and does absolutely everything etc. It's all about how much risk you want to take.

Oh, and in my experience private landlords have lower rent than agents.

Paul_f
20-11-2005, 22:09 PM
As I deal directly with many letting agents regarding training issues I would say the following to help anybody assess a letting agency:

The standard of letting agents is very subjective and generally less professional than they think they are! (They like to think they are sooooooo good!)
They should be NAEA/ARLA/RICS members at the very least otherwise you could be in trouble!
They should have a principal or director who has passed (or studying for) the NAEA/ARLA Techncial Award or better to show they have a good basic knowledge of what's required (not many will have as they are too lazy - but they will say too "busy")
Most "cowboy" √°gents will be affected so much by the 2004 Housing Act in 2006/7 they will have to cease trading or commit criminal acts.
Any agent you use should show you a copy of their professional indemnity and public liability insurance certificates (nobody asks much so they will be surprised)
You need to see their terms of business and get it amended if it's poor (most likely) or walk-away!

I can tell you so much more but you want to go out now and again surely?

susan 2
21-11-2005, 09:16 AM
Gentlemen - thank you very much for your advice. I am very grateful, you have given me much to think about. Especially about the details of choosing an agent. I only knew about using an ARLA or similar agent, but not the rest of the details you have supplied. Our main worry is the maintenance. At the moment my husband goes there the same day if something is wrong. And I suppose our tenants now expect that as standard. I have a feeling they would not get that sort of service from an agent, however good. One point not answered that I really need to know is the occupancy rate. One agent I contacted proudly told me he gets 75%. Last year ours was 96%. We are going to have to work out the drop in income (including the agents fee) very carefully. I suppose at the end of the day we can always sell them-then we have capital gains to deal with! Many thanks susan

MrWoof
21-11-2005, 22:18 PM
The occupancy rate is a variable. It depends on area, relative rent, type of tenant, advertising and probably many more factors. Talk to a number of agents in the area for an indication of void periods.